Category Archives: 03.2 Shows

Planning the final show

As the only management consultant in my year group, it has not been a surprise that I have ended up being in charge of planning & organising everyone into doing things for the final show. I don’t mind so much, it at least put me at ease that things will get done this way. Everyone has so far been very receptive at doing things allocated to them, but it does feel like herding the proverbial cats at times.

Our first main task has been to start discussing and agreeing on the show space itself – who will go where, and in what format etc. Last year’s graduating bunch ended up having shouting matches and rude exchanges in disagreements over space, so I wanted to make sure we had a open, democratic process and no fights.

Poi made us a lovely 1:20 scale model of the space which we all added our own mini models in. A first attempt at a curation perhaps. There will still be more tweaking needed no doubt. We need the work to talk to each other appropriately, and not be boring to look at. I’m still not entirely certain how I will get my hanging to work, but that, and the question over the floor is all that is really left to decide now.

Some photos of the draft layout:

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You’ve got mail

Look what came in the post came today….

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And after a little bit of sorting, this is what we have!  Thanks a million to Mrs T Wilson to donating such a wonderful quantity of maps, and thanks a million to my lovely mum to for making surprisingly good use of Facebook in finding donors and then carting the whole lot over to the post office at top speed for me!!

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The plan is now to finalise exactly how many strings I want / have time for in the installation and make to the final number over next week. I don’t want to keep making right up until the end – firstly it will be too stressful and second, the pages in my poem book will need to be carefully counted so I can’t add threads at the last minute. There are enough ‘local’ maps of my places in the new box that I shouldn’t now need to source any more.

 

18 days until show build
34 days until the show opens 

Waiting for the post

I have ran out of maps.

More are coming in the post, but for the moment, making has stalled while I watch for the postman to come by with a big parcel for me. This has given me the day to think about other things – and question just how many maps I actually want to go to (so far I have 25 done). The ‘other things’ however, are also starting to get quite important, with only three weeks left for any work needed before the show build / assessment begins.

I have decided I do want to put a book of poetry alongside the installation. This isn’t going to be full on long, wordy poems, but rather a single line – a glimpse – of the memory being invoked for each of the map strings I have made. This will offer an insight into the nature of the memories being described for those who wish to know more about the work.

Of course I will have to make the book myself, it will not do to just buy something off the shelf for a exhibition of this nature. I have made some small books before, so I know the basics of bookbinding and some of the formats available. This afternoon I looked back at some of the samples I have made before, as well as some new ideas in long overlooked books off my bookshelf. And ho! I have made an uncharacteristically swift decision! I am pleased that the impending doom of the final show is at least pushing me to make required decisions so swiftly.

Some photos of the finished book model (using bright paper colours for testing the construction but skipping the outside cover). I think I will go for A5 size – twice as big as the model in the photos below. Three reasons for choosing this structure:

  1. It has such a lovely feel to it both stood up and laid down, simple yet with an air of elegant complexity. The book is after all not the main feature of my installation
  2. It allows for hidden pages, things which cannot be quite seen. I know exactly what is going on here, but I’m not going to spoil the surprise!
  3. It offers what seems to be at first glance a continuous stream of text from page to page (on the red paper in the model). Since identity is a fluid stream of discrete moments, I like this symbology.

 

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How to build an installation

So then. It is decided that I am doing an installation for the show – large scale for me, although perhaps small scale in absolute terms. I must consider there will be a dozen other students showing in the same space!

I have been going back over my research notes looking at the range of things which are possible, trying to see what resonates with the fundamental concepts I have come out with for what the installation is seeking to do. My thought is that I am using the map yarns in a way that each thread unravels a fragment of identity formed or remembered – a story, a choice, a path, a longing. The binding of the threads together perhaps can then offer a glimpse of the fleeing whole sense of self.

There are many artists working with fibre installations, and each offers a different perspective on how their materials can be transformed spatially, texturally and through form. How do I want to create an expression of my different experiences? Do I want to represent the size of impact each place had on forming my identity?

I also need to consider the number of map yarns it will be possible to make in the time we have left, and how many I would go to in an ideal world. There are not an infinite number of places in my life, so which places am I choosing? Those which have made the strongest impact irrelevant of time span?

My plan now is to do some testing which plain paper yarns in a space in the studio – check what a hanging installation could look like, what the lengths of my yarns will look like on the floor and options for building the individual strands into one whole. Oh and continue to make endless amounts of map yarn!

Show: T-8 weeks

So the show prep begins

We had our first return visit to the show space today since our brief glimpse last term. It gave us a chance to have a look around with a more discerning eye. Where are the windows? Where are the fire doors or signs which cannot be blocked and so on. It is not nearly as nice a space as the usual Designer Maker final show space – over in our other building. Yet another annoying consequence of having building works dumped on us without notice (the first being our nice studio getting demolished). Anyway, we must work with what we have, and so that work begins.

There is a lot of co-ordination to be done, but people seemed keen today to get started. We did some measurements of the room for example, and talked about a few things which need to be done. Hopefully the importance of the show will not be lost on anyone and we will have a more successful organisation that the last small pop-up show.

My thoughts are still about hanging from the ceiling, which although not quite as high as I remember it, is still about 4m high – so I can get a good amount over head height if I need to. The challenge might be a hanging system as I don’t think we will be allowed to screw anything directly into the ceiling (why have they kept old wallpapered ceilings in an art college???). I need to look into where I get wires which can be screwed across the wall, and how to go about hanging from one of those.

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An encounter with myself

I have spent much of the last year (since before the Unit 1 assessment) tackling the challenge of how to include my interest in working with text/words into my practice. I realise now that if I am to be realistic, the real core of my “practice” has always been the words – the stuff in my sketchbooks are so often poems or calligraphic drawings, the expressionism. This is after all even what my last few art quilts were about. I have perhaps been trying to overlay some ability to work in 3D or objects, without really comprehending what the foundations of my own work were.

So if we look a the picture the other way around…if the words are the core thing, how then can other material or 3d design help express my concept?

I have been looking at the construction of a place identity, trying to express a sort of visual poem as a manifest object. My plan for the installation is to make it a real, immersive space which overlays a physical form of personal experience combined with a seemingly endless stream of consciousness poetry – offering a manifestation of my personal conception of my sense of self.

The key material for my piece is then really the words themselves – using the materiality of the physical act of handwriting, the work becomes both a visual poem and calligraphic record.  Handwriting is a raw, immediate and visceral expression of your core identity – something which is original and unique to yourself.

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Crit on work-in-progress show

The work in progress show closed yesterday, leaving the next show on the calendar as our graduating summer show…Arg!

We had a couple of opportunities for feedback before taking down our work, firstly from a group crit during the morning, and then from visitors at the show closing party after hours. Slightly mixed feelings about my feedback. I heard at least three sets of visitors comment on my work saying it was “amazing” and “wow! look, they are maps!”, but the response from the tutor was at best tepid.  We had quite a lively discussion in the class when I introduced my pieces, and I was pleased to see the group arguing amongst themselves about the meaning of my work – just the sort of debate you would hope to achieve.

The crux of their question was to the level of my specific personal experience which is on display in the work. Some thought they related better to the work because it was more universally human (mountains, sea etc), while others felt I myself was less present – an outside observer of the places being constructed. Suggestions such as making my own maps, using photographs or recording paths etc to personalise the materials. [Some of which I have already tried, some of which I have mixed feelings about].

My concern, is that Maiko seems to think my experiments have not broken away enough and I got the distinct impression from what she said that she didn’t seem to be keen on me doing more weaving. I’m hoping to clarify this before the end of term as I’m not very clear as to what her expectations are – how can I just drop my plan so close to the end? to do what else instead?

Being positive, I do see a couple of key points in her comments: certainly on the inclusion of personal experience into the work, and perhaps also on the safety/comfort of the technique. My worry is that I don’t have enough skill to go anywhere else with the method, or not enough creative vision to figure out what possibilities I’m missing. With only 15 weeks to go, how much have time do I really have to keep experimenting?